Applying for a funded pre-school place – 2021/22

Guidance on how to apply for a funded pre-school education place as well as information about the Department of Education run pre-school education programme.

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  • Applying for a funded pre-school education place 2021/22
  • More useful links

Applying for a funded pre-school education place 2021/22

Funded pre-school education is provided under the Pre-School Education Programme.  This is a programme funded by the Department of Education (DE) with the aim to provide one year of non-compulsory pre-school education to every child in their immediate pre-school year whose family want it.  It provides a rich variety of challenging play-based learning activities and other experiences in a stimulating environment and will help prepare your child for primary school.

The DE Pre-School Education Programme provides funded pre-school education places: it is not free or funded childcare.  Information on childcare provision is available at Family Support NI(external link opens in a new window / tab).

What age should my child be to access a pre-school education place in September 2021?

The Pre-School Education Programme for the 2021/22 school year is targeted at children born between 2 July 2017 and 1 July 2018.  If your child was born during this period you will be eligible to apply for admission to either a Nursery School or Nursery Unit or Playgroup for the school year 2021/22. 

If funded places are still available after target age children are admitted then underage children born on or between 2 July 2018 and 1 July 2019 may also be admitted.  If your child falls within this age group you will be eligible to apply to only a Nursery School or a Nursery Unit within a primary school.

When should I apply for a pre-school education place?

Stage One of the Pre-School admissions process for the 2021/22 school year ended on 28 April 2021 and parents who applied for a funded pre-school place for their child in Stage One were advised on this date of the outcome of their application.

Stage Two of the Pre-School admissions process commenced on 28 April 2021 and will close on Wednesday 5 May 2021.  Further preferences for any children who did not receive an offer of a funded pre-school education place at the end of Stage One and any new pre-school applications should be submitted to the Education Authority by 4.00pm on Wednesday 5 May 2021.

Late applications received in Stage One (ie after 12 noon 5 February 2021) and underage applications are processed in Stage Two.   The outcome of these applications and any further preferences or new applications submitted during Stage Two of the admissions process will be notified to parents on Thursday 10 June 2021.

Where are pre-school education places available?

Pre-school education places are available in nursery schools, primary schools with nursery units and voluntary/private settings that have funded places.  Pre-school education is not defined according to sectors so all pre-school education settings, regardless of location, are considered accessible to children from all backgrounds.

Details of pre-school settings in all areas that have funded pre-school education places remaining at 28 April 2021 can be found on the Education Authority website (external link opens in a new window/tab).

How do I complete an application for a pre-school place?

Parents can still apply for funded pre-school education places online, through the Education Authority website (external link opens in a new window / tab).

You will complete one online application, listing all the pre-school education settings you wish your child to be considered for.

Please note that it may not be possible to secure a place at your first preference setting if more children apply to a setting than the places available.  It is therefore important to list as many settings as possible (that you are willing to send your child to) on your application.

The admissions criteria for all pre-school settings in Northern Ireland were published on the Education Authority website on  Friday 18 December 2020.  

If additional information is required or you have any difficulty when making an application, you can contact the Education Authority admissions helpdesk on:

028 9598 5595

or via email at the address below

preschooladmissions@eani.org.uk

 

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